Allstate Insurance Company's Cheryl Harris: Building Supplier Diversity

At a young age, Cheryl Harris was impressed by the power of small-business owners. “Growing up in Chicago, we were surrounded by small businesses in the community, all owned and operated by African-Americans. They lived in the community so they provided great role models for me,” says Cheryl, who today is Senior Vice President, Sourcing and Procurement Solutions for Allstate Insurance Company (No. 33 in the Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50). “It’s just a part of who I am, and I believe it’s now my responsibility and I’m accountable to make sure that minority, women and LGBT businesses—really, any business considered to be ‘disadvantaged’—has an opportunity to be included and have a seat at the table.”

As the daughter of a poor, single parent, Cheryl was given guidance and help to find scholarships for college by the late Silas Purnell, Director of the Ada S. McKinley Community Service Program. Originally interested in math and science, she was encouraged to consider Florida A&M, a Historically Black College, to study business administration. After being recruited, she made close friends and felt like the “stars aligned and it was the place I was supposed to be.”

Paying It Forward

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